Thursday, March 29, 2007

028.1 Audiobook Information

Our office was introduced to the Mp3 player version of audiobooks known as Playaways by one of our vendors awhile back. Not being an "audio" book participant (just not my thing...can't keep up with the story), nevertheless, I do find these "cute" little packages intriguing. At least 3-4 of our campuses have bought a few to explore their check-out popularity with students.

I know that they will attract attention at our upcoming state library conference next month. Our district librarians will be among the crowds checking out the titles and types of books available in this format and probably adding some to their consideration files for next year's budget funds (because who has any money left at this time of year!)

At a blog I'm just beginning to explore, I found this good overview of what to think about when adding Playaways to your collection. The statements are generic enough that the thoughts are applicable to any audiobook in this form. Good information on storage and parental notification. Here is another shorter reference to them at the same site. Here is a website about them that has a good concise "how-to" that could easily be converted to a small poster to hang near the collection or handout to include with the items.

In researching this topic, I also came across this weeks-old article that talks about audiobooks in general and all ages of students. Playaways are mentioned as a good way for elementary kids to build interest in books which then leads to more reading! The rest of the article covers the many ways college students use their Mp3 players and how universities are adapting to this use by their students.

Might just have to give one a try myself!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

025.21 Good Reads for Boys: What's Missing?

The team bloggers at YA Authors Cafe have posted a question concerning what types of books are needed for YA boy readers. They have asked the blogging world to response.

So far the respondents have mentioned the need for:
Paulsen type stories, more diversity of characters, non-sophomoric humor, mysteries, especially crime mysteries or mysteries without ghosts, clean stories—there ARE YAs who not into crude language and sex and yet, want meaty stories, and hard science fiction. They list some particular books it might be good to check out!

For me personally, I’d like to see a little less teenage angst…there are HAPPY teens out there. I just know there are! Yes, the teen years are full of issues and life-changing decisions and I have always been glad that there were books out there to support teens in need. But there are kids who love (and respect) their parents, like school, want to do "good," don't drink, swear, or have sex and THEY want to read about characters who mirror their lives.

Publishers are putting out their spring collections. The mailboxes (U.S. & online) are filling up with advertisements and announcements of books. The new lists (TAYSHAS, Bluebonnet, ALA, etc. have new books for considerations) In Texas, we Librarians are gearing up for our HUGE conference next month where we will have numerous opportunities to hear, touch, read, and discuss every type of book.

It might be good to have this particular group of readers--YA guys, in our thoughts.

004.678 Social Networking: Students Speak Out

Straight from the horse's mouth!

Student Opinions for Using Social Networking from 9th & 10th grade students at Westwood School, a college prep private school in Georgia. Students discuss MySpace but many of their statements can be applied to any of the social networks. They use it to connect with friends. Some of them don't use it. All of them recognize there are problems with it and know that it is important they use it carefully.

Outta the mouths of babes...I just hope WE are listening!

025.5 Wiki Information Educators

Friday, March 16, 2007

371.33 Student Podcast Projects and Blogging Ideas

Here's another teacher's podcasting project with her students. The students do prepared readings from books called the Literary Salon. There is a link to student samples included in the project.

She also includes several other posts about using blogs with her 4th grade students. She includes things to consider and why to use blogs with kids. She also discusses her class' blog project about Sierra Leone. She also posted about several other teachers, both elementary and secondary, who are also doing bloggng with students.

I know I will be returning here often to see how it's going. I do hope you can see these examples from your vantage point!

004.678 Social Networks: A Rating And A Review...of Sorts

Found this chart of social networks at Common Ground and showed it to Daughter #2 who is home on her last Spring Break as a student. She did guess that either MySpace or Facebook would be tops. She and I both were amazed that MySpace holds almost 81% of the market share!

She has been on #5 Xanga for four years and did not even recognize the names of #3 and #4. Of the 20 social networks listed, she only had visited MySpace, Facebook, Live Journal and had heard of Yahoo360 and Friendster.

I had gone to Classmates (and even signed in years ago (5+?)) when it was "free." Didn't know then that I was making a social networking statement! In an attempt to keep up with Web 2.0, I knew about MySpace, Facebook, and MyYearbook. Hummm...8 encounters of the 20 between us. Suffice it to say, we are not into these things too much!

Daughter #2 says she likes Facebook better than MySpace because it is easier to find people. You can look for people by their schools. She visits Facebook every day. She says MySpace is too hard to search to find anyone and only goes there about once a month. She said lots of people prefer MySpace because you can design your layout for your profile. Facebook just has a standard layout that everyone uses. She occasionally gets asked to join the others, but never does. Kinda goes along with her lack of blog posts since August.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

371.33 Podcasts as Projects: Looks Easy

Diane Chen, blogger at School Library Journal posted what looks like simple step-by-step directions for creating podcasts in the classroom...without spending money! She also included some sample student projects.
Her basic steps include:
  • Establishing a free account with a pin number.
  • Using a telephone to dial in and enter the pin.
  • Recording the podcast, pressing #, and publishing the podcast to the web (an option).
  • Logging on to the computer with the password and listening to their podcasts.
  • Exporting the podcasts as MP3 files.
  • Sharing the URL or the MP3 file with others.

Diane has included questions for both the teacher and students to consider in planning and creating their projects.

Looks easy! Looks fun!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

912 Google Transparencies: A Fun Way to View YOUR World

A view of the working neighborhood! Added the circle for emphasis.

005.72 Wikipedia: What You Might Need to Know

Deja vu.

Only the format has changed. I keep running into anti-Wikipedia talk and references...JUST like I used to run into with World Book (the print version). Teachers want more scholarly materials, or, unfortunately, have not learned the value of online resources and lump all of them as undesirable.

No, I do not defend Wikipedia (or for that matter World Book (tpv)) for major research papers and projects. I DO defend it as a wonderful STARTING point for background information and quick reference look-ups!

It is an exciting reference tool, not so much for what is in it as how it got there. Are there problems? Of course there with ANY type of reference material. Timeliness and point of view clouded the effectiveness of the print versions. The online versions have conquered the timeliness issue, still suffer point of view issues, and now seem to have taken on the extra burden of legitimacy.

I do not know why that should be an exclusive problem of online reference sources such as Wikipedia. There have certainly been enough examples of print items in recent years that have suffered at the hands of less-than-truthful authors.

So the resource itself has provided a piece for the "uninformed" and/or "skeptical" users out there to calm their "fears."
Ten things about Wikipedia
1. We're not for sale.
2. Our work belongs to everyone.
3. We speak Banyumasan… and about 250 other languages...
4. You cannot actually change anything in Wikipedia. (Like an elephant, it never forgets because of its internal memory.)
5. We care deeply about the quality of our work.
6. We don't want you to trust us...[but do] not condemn Wikipedia, but to use it with an informed understanding of what it represents.
7. We're not alone.
8. We are only collectors.
9. We're not a dictatorship.
10. We're in it for the long haul.

Take a look. It is not a scary monster waiting to drop you into some Internet abyss. Your judgement of what is good, and what is not, will not be compromised. You will still be able to tell the difference. I promise. You might like what you see...or at the very least, have a pleasurable close encounter with information on the Web.

Monday, March 12, 2007

004.67 Web Technology: A Historical Review

Jim Rapoza, Director of Ziff Davis eWEEK Labs, picks the top all-time Web Technologies in honor of the 15 anniversary of "ViolaWWW, the precursor to the modern Web browser, being launched and the burgeoning Web revolution began to gain steam."

XML - Extensible Markup Language, allows for tags enabling the definition, transmission, validation, and interpretation of data between applications and between organizations.
HTML - Hypertext Markup Language, the beginning core of the Web
Netscape Navigator - 1st major Web application; stood for "the Web"
HTTP - simple protocol provides whole connection of the Web
Apache - most successful open-source product that still runs most of the Web
NCSA Mosaic - first popular browser
CERN httpd - 1st Web server
Spyglass - browser code that became IE
Internet Explorer 3 - won browser war with Netscape Navigator; dominates market today
NCSA httpd - servers of the early Web, platform that other Web technologies were built on
Firefox - descendant of original Netscape browser code; gaining popularity against IE
SSL (secure sockets layer) - encrypts and secures Web connections; makes it mostly safe to send credit card,other sensitive information
ViolaWWW - 1st modern Web browser quickly replaced by Mosaic
WAIS - searched text; forerunner of Web browsers
CGI (Common Gateway Interface) - allowed complex data-driven applications for the Web; helped launch the e-commerce boom
Internet Information Server (IIS) - when Microsoft released IIS as a built-in feature of Windows NT Server, the .Net server platform was born.
Squid - proxy server which is part of Web security development
Java - true importance came on the server side when became core platform for enterprise Web-based applications
HotMetal - 1st truly useful tool for building websites
Flash - brings interactivity and rich media applications (animation, etc.) to the Web
PHP - popular scripting language especially for open source applications
Dreamweaver - program of choice for many Web site developers
RSS - simple syndication format instrumental in rise of Web 2.0 technologies (blogs, podcasting)
Web Trends - analytics tool for business
Blogger - not the first, but made social networking possible for the "common user"
Placeware - Web conferencing tool
Lynx - text-only browser for terminal-based admins
Perl - pre-Web language for early applications
Opera - innovative browser
Eclipse - open source development environment for Web services

Why did I choose to post about this information? I took a look at the list of 30 terms and realized that as a digital immigrant I use, am aware of, and recognize only 13 items on the list. It is further evidence that I am a "user" of Web technology, not a "mover and shaker."

But hey, I drive a car every day, know basic upkeep, and can recognize most models on the road because of training and information made available to me, but I couldn't really tell you how it all works or why? I feel the same way about the Web. Because I have had great opportunities to use and learn about the Web, I am a pretty confident user.

It is fun to know that I have traveled this pioneer road "virtually" from the beginning with great guides and guideposts along the way. Secretly though, I wish my number had been higher!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

028.6 Cybils Award for 2006 Books: Chosen by Bloggers

The blogging world practiced its social networking in a unique way recently. A group of bloggers came together and created The Cybils Award and honored 8 titles in children's and young adult literature. The categories included Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fiction Picture Books, Nonfiction Picture Books. Graphic Novels for 2 different age levels, Middle Grade Fiction, YA Fiction, Nonfiction for Middle Grades & YA and Poetry.

At the website you can see all of the nominated titles in each category and short descriptions of the books. The blog creators are also going to include as many interviews of the authors as they can over the next few months. A pdf document listing the nominees and winners is also available.

Another great way to share book information and reviews! Another great selection tool for choosing books your students will want to read!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

020.23 Librarians: Vocational Guidance

Love the last one!!
More about this later after I have had time to digest the whole post!